Jaguar To Drop X-Type Car

LONDON (AP) -- Car and sport-utility vehicle maker Jaguar Land Rover said Wednesday it will cease production of its X-Type "Baby Jag" by the end of the year, eliminating 300 jobs at its Halewood plant near Liverpool, England.

The X-Type was one of the biggest-selling Jaguar models, with 357,000 units produced, but failed to sell as well as its makers had hoped.

The company said it also intends to shut down the plant for another three weeks this year because of the weakness of the luxury car market.

"Jaguar Land Rover's retail sales fell by 28 percent in the past 10 months," said Jaguar Land Rover CEO David Smith.

"We have taken unprecedented actions to cut costs, including reduced production volumes, significant cuts to investment plans and some 2,200 job losses."

Those job losses include both Jaguar and Land Rover workers, who currently number 14,500, the company said.

"Ceasing production of the X-Type early, with further redundancies and temporary shutdowns at Halewood, is necessary to protect our other investment plans," Smith said.

The entry-level X-Type sedan, the smallest car in the Jaguar stable, was introduced in 2001 to attract younger buyers. List prices range from 21,563 pounds ($35,300) to 29,246 pounds.

Developed by previous owner Ford on the Mondeo platform, the car suffered from poor reviews and struggled in a sector including BMW's 3-series. Ford ceased selling the X-Type in the United States in 2007.

"A new product is pivotal to the long-term future of the Halewood plant," said Len McCluskey, assistant general secretary of the Unite union.

"At the same time as announcing these losses, on the basis of commitments the company has given to the work force, we expect them to announce without undue delay the introduction of the LRX and that production should commence at Halewood," McCluskey added.

The LRX concept, which debuted at the Detroit Auto Show last year, is a sleek Land Rover SUV powered by a diesel hybrid engine.

The LRX was developed by Ford, which acquired Jaguar in 1989 and Land Rover in 2000; it sold the company to Tata Motors of India last year.

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